World Literature in English, Spring, '98

Students' Final Take-Home Exams
Spring, 1998

Analyze the role (post)modern technology and media (e.g.T.V., radio, airplane)  plays in two of these three films and how they get to be related to the immigrant characters.
Connie Tseng
Johnny Lo
(Connie Tseng:) 
In Masala, the airplane is the symbol of confusion to and confrontation of the two identities. In the beginning of the film, Krishna the God has to make the plane blow and meanwhile Krishna the man¡¦s parents happen to be the guests on the plane. They are on their way back home and later on die in the plane crash. Krishna is left alone in Canada, he does not feel belonging to the place, moreover, he does not even belong to any family. After his family¡¦s death, he becomes completely rootless like an airplane. We can never know where the plane is flying by looking up at it on the ground. When Krishna feels frustrated or confused he sees a plane flying above him.

Because the guests on the crushing plane are most Indian-Canadian, it does not draw too much attention from either India or Canada. Their double identities confront themselves. When Indian part win they go back home; when the Canadian part becomes stronger they stay. For those who stay, they have their identical confrontation still. The two daughters have different point of view about their identities. When they argue about it, the plane flies through again.

The television and other electrical facilities the grandmother likes to use have the image of cultural mixture. Krishna the God shows through the television but seems to accomplish nothing for the family. Once the traditional belief is disturbed by the other culture, the power reduces for people¡¦s belief also decreases. The God Krishna is denied by his people and disappears.

The grandmother takes the western electrical facilities as the symbol of wealth and power. She likes to stay in the kitchen to give orders and operate popcorn machine, ice cream maker or juicer when she is so powerless outside.

In Rude, the broadcast station is like an emotional space ship. The immigrants can call in and express their own feelings and difficulties. It is an important place for the Indian Diaspora to speak when they are voiceless outside.

The broadcaster is like a god that knows and predict every thing about the Indian Diaspora. In the movie, we are implied the past and future about the characters. It seems that the Indian Diaspora is all destined to have the same struggling, confusion and obstacles.

Johnny Lo
El Dorado and Rude uses technology to connect and show city life within marginal area of a city, and to relate with all the characters within the film. Quebec itself is the representation of a technological center, full of modern technologies. It is the place where technology is seen practical, convenient and handful. While in Rude, technology involves within people life so tensely that it controls the characters. Technology would almost take the role of God in Rude, it has a very important representation for each character in the film. 

The usage of technology in El Dorado is not as godlike as Rude, but it certainly has its own power of influence. Car is seen as the representation of social class and transportation. Loulou has a car, because she has the ability to maintain its expenses. It is important for her, because it is the apparatus that can take her from one place to another, and carry her chastity for those who need help. Lloyd's car not only means transportation for him, but also his treasure, his fashion, and his social class of being a DJ. Disco player is important to Harriet, because it hypnotizes her by listening to it. It is a sort of one to one communication to her besides having dogs, bird, and rabbit. 

Telephone is the short communication that one can hold to another, but it is important, because it links one character from another. Although sometimes telephone can not connect the characters together, like the 
scene of Harriet calling Rita, but we know from Harriet's message that she finally has solve her crisis. She has found someone to talk someone who wishes to understand and care about her. Radio then is the connection from one character to another, it does not control the life of the audiences, but it influences others. The radio channel spoken by Lloyd is where he can summarize news from the day in a very exaggerate way to all the audiences. It is also like a via of introspection and reflection from him to his audiences, while his audiences listens to it as their habit, since the stories told by him are almost similar to their life style. 

The importance of radio and technology in Rude is the superiority it brings to Rude, unlike Lloyd, it is not a place for reflection, but a place where she can obtain power from call ins, and the superior power she has on influencing others life. Rude predicts everything and reveals them to the air. There is no need in showing us a radio in the film like El Dorado in order to see that it is just the "radio", because her voice is everywhere. Her voice covers up the entire Caribbean vicinity predicting, and influencing other people life with intensity. TV and camera recorder is like the diary of one of the characters in the film. It documents everything through tapes, then it reveals out from TV, like showing the memory of the character. The female character in the film keeps on watching it in desire to hold on to the past, giving up the present. The documentary film she sees from TV is somehow like the disco Harriet listens to, as the element that can hypnotize her. The telephone answering machine is the element that only receives information from one side, there is no mutual communication through it. It is like a menu book providing a list of menu that you choose to talk to. 

Car also functions as the element of transportation, social role and class within the film. The gringo has a black car which means his hidden identities, while the policemen car means justice. Technology is the element that shows part of the complexities and practicality within the society.  

Using technology in these two films let us realize that it already involves part of our life. Technology has melt within our life catching its own significance. It is no longer something dead to be deal with, but something that can change our life style by being accompanied with it. Technology shows the intention, desire and the action of the characters, it is part of their life.


El Dorado catches on the metaphysical by revealing the question of hope through out the entire filming process. While the audiences are watching the film, we would wander the "meta" that all the characters would reach. The future perspective of each character is first seen unclearly, because all of it sounds like fiction to us, although it is from the stories that Quebec citizen must face in their daily life. The film sounds like analyzing several fictional lives in Quebec, however reality is beyond its fiction. Lighting is one of the elements in the film where we can obtain the sense of unreality within our vision. Rita is usually associated with darkness, because she does not belong anywhere, but within darkness. Harriet is associated with blue, because it is sad and difficult for her in communicating with others. She has difficulty in talking to anyone or 
showing her affections to anyone. Roxanne is associated with orange and yellow. Orange is like the varieties of her personalities, neither yellow, pink nor red. She shows different faces through out her daily life. She is always crying in front of her mother, smiling in the bar, and calm in front of Mark. 

The film itself connects the feeling of one character to another by connecting different scenes with music and light. An example could be the one that starts with Cello playing on the violin. It connects then to scene on the ceiling with Rita, then to some of the structures of the marginal area of Quebec, and at last to the candle room where Roxanne is crying in front of her mother. All these scenes show the loneliness and introspection of the characters. Cello music and ways of playing his music is sad and lonely, no one is beside him while he is playing. Then a piece of his shadow with his music takes us to the scene where Rita is feeling the wind holding a shirt with her hands. Few minute later, a force like the wind shifts immediately to the crying scene of Roxanne. 

All the way is accompanied by the sad music of Cello and the shadows of different characters. The movie also contains many symbolism that unite one scene and one character from another.El Dorado gives us symbolism that most of them are fictional, but they are part of realism. Water and wind is like the sense of 
freedom, and a kind of treatment to relinquish their pains, and injuries from the past. Doll and stamps is the elements that Rita and Loulou want to hold on as part of their root and security. Mirror, therapy, and animals are where the characters have their single line communication, where they can see their reflections. Storm is the symbolism of showering away the mess. Storm comes right after climax, it washes away 
all the complicated mess and leads everyone to find their new shelter. 

The last disco scene is where we find people with different masquerades, masking themselves as people within societies do everyday. The railroad scene is where Rita faces Lloyd without disguise, following him for new chances and hope.

El Dorado is a film where every immigrants or "refugees" are in hope of finding a better future, a better place. The name of the film is quoted from a place where the Spanish wanted to find when they first came 
to America. It is said within the legend of natives American that "El Dorado" is a place where everything is made of gold. "El Dorado" means also the ideal place of perfection where the characters in the movies are 
in hope to find.